In the opening lines of his 1978 publication, Diableries: La Vie Quotidienne Chez Satan, noted toy collector, Jac Remise, relates how a crew of demolition workers in Paris discovered a mysterious wooden box hidden in the ruins of a condemned building. The box, which had been wrapped with old military belts, was found to contain a remarkable collection of photographs printed on glass. Unlike the mundane scenes of everyday life portrayed in most photographs, these pictures depicted a hedonistic world filled with drunken devils, sinister skeletons and scantily clad women. Few clues were given as to who could have created these extraordinary images, or why they were made. Were they political satire, or designed to warn against temptation? Or were they made purely for entertainment? An anonymous note found buried among the glass images only added to the mystery.
“This is the work of my life, it is thus that I dreamed of Hell. If my visions are true, then the wicked may rest assured, the afterlife will be sweet for them to bear.”
What the demolition workers discovered that day was a series of photographs known as Les Diableries, The Diabolical. Each scene in the series was composed of an elaborate diorama sculpted out of plaster and clay and embellished with miniature props. Created in Paris during the 1860s, the series was printed in the form of stereoscopic transparencies which, when viewed with special lenses, produced a mesmerizing 3D effect. At the time of the discovery not much was known about their origins. Dealers and collectors had been trading the macabre images for years, though no one had been able to provide a comprehensive history. While many details have yet to be revealed, the essay linked below presents an overview of what we know so far, including recent discoveries which shed light on the characters who dreamed up this unheavenly realm.
For the complete PDF history of these amazing images, click here.
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